13 Things to Help You to Get Fit and Strong and… Stay That Way When You’re Over 60
When did you and I stop playing out? When did we stop running around like giddy kippers just for the sheer unadulterated fun of it? When did moving become a chore, rather than something that was imperative?
It’s time to get back to moving – it’s time to get back to doing what your body was designed to do.
Why? The Benefits of Exercise
The benefits of continuing to exercise into older age are many and varied. Are you ready – this is a long list:
Reduced risk of osteoporosis, improved balance leading to fewer falls, improved heart health, weight loss (with all the benefits that brings), improved mood, prevention or delay of some chronic diseases, increased energy levels, improved brain function, improved sleep patterns, improved appetite, better chance of living independently for longer.
Some gyms and classes are quite social too, and that’s another benefit.
Despite being fairly fit ‘for my age’, I had a few aches and niggles. That’s only to be expected as we get older – isn’t it? I started going to the gym seriously about 18 months ago, and I can honestly report that all of those aches and niggles have gone.
My back doesn’t ache when I get out of bed, my shoulder (injured in a car crash in 2004) is back to full movement, my plantar fasciitis is a distant memory – and I’d completely forgotten that I’d ever had a problem with my hip until I started writing this article!
And the biggest benefit of all, for me – the thought that I’m doing something that has such long-term benefits. I’m taking control of the situation, and I’m allowing my body to be the best it can be.
How do I do it?
So, how do you go about getting back to fitness, starting to get strong again – and then staying that way?
Take Your Body Seriously
If you have any health concern, check with a doctor before taking up any new physical endeavours. Learn to walk before you run (quite literally!). Take advice from the experts.
Find an Activity That You Enjoy
What did you enjoy back in the day? Or maybe there’s something you’ve always fancied trying? Failing that, find something that you can tolerate. Sometimes it’s all about sheer dogged hard work and determination. There is no substitute for just getting on with it.
Just Do Your Best
Please, please believe me when I say that none of the other people at your gym will care about the size of you, or the shape of you, or about what you can or can’t do. All of them are simply doing what you want to do – getting fitter and stronger.
Comfort Is Key
Wear something that you’re comfortable in – both physically and psychologically. A sports bra is something you will want to invest in fairly soon, but in the early days, fasten an existing bra as tight as you can manage and shorten the shoulder straps.
Joggers or leggings, baggy T-shirt or crop top, the choice is yours – just make sure you can bend and stretch. You will sweat, so wear something that won’t mind.
Don’t Forget Trainers
You will need some trainers. Go for a mid-range general purpose pair. You can spend an enormous amount of money on trainers – but you don’t have to.
Tracking Progress Is Fun
You don’t have to track your activity – but it’s fun and can spur you on to do just that little bit more. But be warned – just owning a fitbit will not make you fit!
Remember to Warm Up
Always, always warm up. Your muscles are like blu-tak – when they’re cold, they don’t work very well.
Don’t do stretches as part of your warm-up (think what would happen if you stretched that blu-tak while it was cold…). Stretching is important at the end of a workout, but beforehand it’s more important to just get everything moving and get that blood pumping.
Ache Is a Part of It
You will ache. Oh boy, you will ache. But be honest – don’t you ache already? This is a totally different sort of ache – this is an ache that says, “I’ve taken control, I’m using my body the way it was intended to be used.” This is a good ache.
If the ache becomes a pain, treat it with RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), and if it doesn’t start to improve within a couple of days, see a doctor or a physiotherapist. But don’t allow it to stop you moving.
This Is Not a Competition
Never ever feel you have to compete with anyone else – you just have to try to do better than you did yesterday.
The Trick Is in the Habit
Make a habit of it; get into a routine. After a while, you’ll no longer need to think about it – it will simply be what you do.
Don’t Let the Wee Stop You
Stress incontinence. It’s the single factor preventing otherwise healthy women from taking part in exercise activities. And it’s heart breaking.
Don’t drink for about an hour beforehand and always go to the loo immediately before you do any exercise (helpful hint – cough!).
During exercise, take small sips of water – and then make sure you re-hydrate afterwards. Whatever you do, do NOT let stress incontinence stop you from exercising – or any other activity you enjoy.
Extra Servings Are Not Your Friend
Don’t over-compensate – don’t use your session in the gym as an excuse to have that extra cream cake!
Do What You Can
There will be some things you think you’ll never be able to do. There will be some things that you will never be able to do. Do the things you can do – do them with gusto and vigour. And then do a bit more.
What kind of exercise do you do after 60? Is it a constant part of your life? Do you have any advice for women who might be just starting to get back in to exercise? Please share with our community!